• Janus
    7.3k
    So there is nothing admirable about a student that finds dark matter/dark energy explanations to be inadequate, so they delve into the subject? Are you opposed to the action of learning about what you disagree with or maybe you were just poo-pooing college degrees in general?ZhouBoTong

    How can you find something inadequate or disagree with it prior to studying it? Of course it you disagreed with the whole idea of some discipline, say for a couple of examples, cosmology or theology, then of course it is not that you should not study that subject; you would not study it.

    I don't suppose you read the article being referenced?ZhouBoTong

    Yes, I read it and I thought it was, most charitably, superficial, and, least charitably, vacuous.
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    At this point, I’d simply like for you to answer my initial twojavra

    Sorry, I did intend to get to it eventually, just needed more than 20 minutes.

    Premise: We humans value sapience; we, for example, want ourselves to be sapient, rather than non-sapient. As another example that is applicable to the philosophy forum: we almost by definition value those historical philosophers we deem to have been of greater wisdom, and do not value those whom we deem to have been utterly devoid of wisdom (given that philosophy is a love of wisdom).javra

    I take this to say, "We appreciate wisdom. It is better to be wise than not. We tend to respect the opinions of those we consider to be wise, more than those we don't."

    First, hopefully that is accurate? If not let me know. And I hope it is not too annoying, but I do like to confirm that I am understanding correctly so I will simplify and summarize (which can sometimes cause a loss of important information).

    If my interpretation is correct then I agree, but would add that there will not be universal agreement on what is "wise" (around 33% of Americans apparently think that Donald Trump is very wise - which makes me question the definition of wise - notice IF he is wise, it could ONLY be in business {still very debatable} and yet many consider him wise enough to be their leader).

    If this premise stands—and if wisdom is not concluded to be an irrational or fallacious concept in respect to what is real—then I offer that this conclusion then rationally follows: We, thereby, likewise value those artworks which to us expresses great sapience over those artworks that to us are either devoid of sapience or express minimal amounts of it. This regardless of whether it’s Shakespeare, the Transformers, or the Simpsons. To find aesthetic value in a blank canvas as a finished work of art, or in a musical piece that is devoid of sound, one will need to experience it as endowed with worthwhile wisdom; otherwise, one will not find aesthetic value to such pieces of art.javra

    OK, so FOR ME, I would need to adjust the premise for this to follow. If I use my simplified version (I am sure you will let me know what is wrong) then I would change it this way:

    Original: "We appreciate wisdom. It is better to be wise than not. We tend to respect the opinions of those we consider to be wise, more than those we don't."

    Updated: "We appreciate wisdom MORE THAN ALL OTHER CONCEPTS. It is ALWAYS better to be wise than not (I can almost accept that one). We ALWAYS respect the opinions of the wise over the un-wise. And finally: We all agree on what is "wise."

    For me the first line is the big problem. Sure we appreciate wisdom, but surely convenience is something that is more appreciated? We appreciate wisdom, but how much will we inconvenience ourselves to achieve it? I am referring to most people, most of the time. I think there are a few impressive people who are willing to struggle to achieve wisdom, but most wisdom is achieved through interest. Because someone happens to really like a subject they get really into it.

    We, thereby, likewise value those artworks which to us expresses great sapiencejavra

    This is the part that confused me a bit. Does the art express sapience, or does it inspire a person to achieve sapience? I can buy the inspire bit (to an extent), but surely non-art could express sapience more directly? It might be boring, but that was my point about interest.

    so too is a human’s awareness of aesthetics better than that of a chimp’s.javra

    And yet any human that says Transformers is better than Hamlet is wrong. This suggests aesthetics is more a field of study (like quantum physics) than some ability that humans naturally have? And that is sort of my point. We have created a massive formal academic field of art, that contributes very little to actual art.

    Well, you have said more that probably deserves a response, but I have already written quite a bit, and you mentioned that you have had about enough of this topic :smile:

    Definitely let me know of any important points you made that I did not address.
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    How can you find something inadequate or disagree with it prior to studying it? Of course it you disagreed with the whole idea of some discipline, say for a couple of examples, cosmology or theology, then of course it is not that you should not study; you would not study it.Janus

    huh? So everyone that gets a Master's Degree just blindly jumped into the subject? We learn a little bit, then form opinions that inform us as to what else we want to learn.

    Yes, I read it and I thought it was, most charitably, superficial, and, least charitably, vacuous.Janus

    nu, uh. it was good :razz:
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    if I had the requisite experience I could come to see what they see.Janus

    There are MANY subjects where I can admit that. Art happens to be one where I do not think that idea applies. HOWEVER, EVEN IF IT DID, academic literature is a subject of which I have more experience than 99% of humanity. Maybe still not enough? But again, that suggests a different type of "art".

    I maintain that there is simply more to be seen in some things than in others, and this is a function of what awareness, thought, association, emotion, liveliness, insight, and so on has been put in by the creator.Janus

    Don't forget the awareness, thought, association...so on that is put in by the VIEWER (this statement could be used to prove either side of the argument). Art is not art until it is created, but by definition, it is also not art until it is viewed. I guess we are just disagreeing on what is required in order to count as a "viewer".
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    Alright NKBJ, time to address my claim that there have been no specific arguments as to why Hamlet, etc is better than Transformers, etc.

    There's a LOT actually. Depth of thought, values, artistic ability, complexity, etc.NKBJ

    I wrote a whole bunch but then decided I am just wasting your time. This quote is exactly what I am referring to. You and the rest who disagree with me made many statements like this, but never felt the need to back them up. I challenged them constantly, but no one wants to go tit-for-tat on Shakespeare vs Transformers. Are there any specific examples that would show how Shakespeare expressed these concepts in such a way that any examples from Transformers would pale in comparison? You all are so certain, this should be easy - You don't have to use Shakespeare (i prefer it because I know it better than most "high art"). Any examples of "high art" expressing these concepts in a superior fashion will give me something to work with.

    And to be fair, the quote above IS an argument, so I may have over-stated at first. But it is not a specific argument, and does not have any support (It is a thesis sentence - lets try to prove it :grin: )
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    Right. And as I commented on another thread, the dominant art of our time is on Netflix and Spotify.old

    Great stuff Old (you said a lot that I liked, but this quote really captures it). I was just re-reading this thread and I don't think I ever responded to you. I do not think we were 100% in agreement, but I liked the vast majority of what you said. I think other posters gave you some good responses (both supporting and countering), so I am not trying to re-open the discussion, I just wanted to say thanks for contributing and apologize for not replying (I have never had a thread be busy and it threw me off - I also know that as the OP I don't have to respond to everything, I just feel bad if I don't :grimace: )
  • Janus
    7.3k
    I think you're tendentiously exaggerating what I have said in your first response and bringing in extraneous considerations (the viewer thoughts, responses and associations) in the second.

    In relation to that second response; of course I acknowledge that the viewer does bring their own thoughts, responses and association as well as their limitations to the viewing if the work, just as the creator puts their thoughts, responses, associations and limitations into the work.

    There is no "direct representation" of those thoughts, etc. in the creation of the work, but they will be embodied as traces. It's actually quite mysterious when you think about it, and that's why the arts are often associated with the numinous.

    Similarly there is no "direct transmission" of what the artwork embodies of those traces to the viewer, because he or she views works through a subjective lens. The point is, though, that what is actually embodied by the work is something real, that will be more or less apprehended by the viewer depnding on various factors, including of course education and subtlety of understanding, etc..

    I can't prove any of this or provide empirical evidence for it, but it is something I know from experience, so all I can do is tell it the way I see it, and if you don't relate to that, then the conversation will just go around in circles if you keep demanding objective evidence or proof.
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    Similarly there is no "direct transmission" of what the artwork embodies of those traces to the viewer, because he or she views works through a subjective lens. The point is, though, that what is actually embodied by the work is something real, that will be more or less apprehended by the viewer depnding on various factors, including of course education and subtlety of understanding, etc..Janus

    When I referred to direct transmission I actually meant NOT art. If we really want to learn something, NOT art is almost always the best way. If we are bored while learning, then adding in some art might help. And of course (to me) the main purpose of art is to entertain (notice that is the part that really puts a huge gap between us). Art may hone ideas we already have, but it will never (very rarely to be safe) get us to agree with something we previously thought wrong. When people read "Uncle Tom's Cabin before the Civil War {in the U.S.}, how many pro-slavery people changed their mind? Notice people that already do not own slaves, are the ones who "learn" some important truth in the book - granted some are inspired to take action, but they already mostly agreed, so what did they "learn"?.

    I am not even sure I am on topic anymore :grin:

    And I think you are right in that we have gone about as far as we can go on most of this. Thanks for the scrum.
  • javra
    767
    so too is a human’s awareness of aesthetics better than that of a chimp’s. — javra


    And yet any human that says Transformers is better than Hamlet is wrong.
    ZhouBoTong

    And how on earth did you arrive at this stupendous conclusion??? Since it’s too grievous a spin to not correct—lest we inadvertently encourage elitism:

    No experience of beauty can possibly be wrong. This is in parallel to how no truths are false. Yes, there are some truths—e.g. circles are round but triangles are not—that the average Joe Shmoe doesn’t find quite as worthwhile or impressive to be told about or to contemplate in comparison to others. But none of them are wrong—even the trite ones; all truths are right in so being true—just like all experienced aesthetics are right in so being of the aesthetic (yes, including a chimp’s or elephant’s; how could it be otherwise?).

    So, when a person states that the Transformers are to them aesthetically better than Hamlet, they are perfectly right in their expression of what is factually aesthetic to them—as well as what isn’t. But just as one’s degree of general understanding tends to determine which truths are deemed trite and which are deemed more profound, so too with aesthetics. Better and worse; not right and wrong.


    Well, you have said more that probably deserves a response,ZhouBoTong

    Thanks for expressing that. :wink:
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    so too is a human’s awareness of aesthetics better than that of a chimp’s. — javra


    And yet any human that says Transformers is better than Hamlet is wrong.
    — ZhouBoTong

    And how on earth did you arrive at this stupendous conclusion??? Since it’s too grievous a spin to not correct—lest we inadvertently encourage elitism:
    javra

    So in reviewing your words, I am not exactly sure of your position in relation to mine. If you are NOT entirely bored with this topic, maybe you will want to answer the following question?

    Why do we teach a lot of Shakespeare and zero Transformers?

    If you are thinking about profound vs trite, it is a safe bet that most high school students find NOTHING profound in ANYTHING they are forced to read for school. I am not saying they would find Transformers profound, just that is an unfair measure as it RARELY occurs.

    But just as one’s degree of general understanding tends to determine which truths are deemed trite and which are deemed more profound, so too with aesthetics.javra

    Whether we are talking art or philosophy, how often do you come across something profound? I get that I have emotional inadequacies, but the answer for me is NOT OFTEN. If only 1% (being generous) of art or philosophy is "profound", then are we just wasting time the rest of the time? I am suggesting there are other benefits (possibly even other areas of more "prime" importance) of art other than some profound experience.
  • javra
    767
    If you are NOT entirely bored with this topic,ZhouBoTong

    No, I find the topic immensely interesting; but it’s a very complicated subject. And I’m honestly trying to economize my personal time. It might be a while till my next reply.

    Why do we teach a lot of Shakespeare and zero Transformers?ZhouBoTong

    Doubtless this is so due in large part to Shakespeare’s works having greatly influenced our cultural heritage in the west—whereas Transformers has had little of such impact on western society. But this reason is not of itself an issue of directly experienced aesthetics—rather, it’s more one of western culture’s history of aesthetics.

    If you are thinking about profound vs trite, it is a safe bet that most high school students find NOTHING profound in ANYTHING they are forced to read for school.ZhouBoTong

    My bet is that this is in large part due to bad pedagogy. Same with math being typically taught without its purpose and, hence, its relevance, being taught (I didn’t understand what the heck calculus was for until I entered the university, and so didn’t enjoy it in high school); or history being taught as facts when in fact it can be the most intense of human dramas. And awareness of relevancy often takes deeper understanding than can be gleamed from an immediate acquaintance—and the gaining of this understanding is often benefited by good teachers. To me, a good example: our high school teacher brought out images of Brancusi’s Bird in Space. We were less than impressed with this supposedly seminal work—basically seeing it as horse dung (at least I did). He put the sculpture aside and asked us to express as many adjectives as we could that described a bird in space. We started listing: graceful, austere, elegant, serene, etc. When the chalkboard was full with adjectives, he then asked us which if any of these adjectives didn’t describe the sculpture. They all did. At this point we all had a deeper understanding of the sculpture’s abstract significance and, with it, a newfound appreciation for it. Some, including myself, in the process came to discover what makes it aesthetic.

    I am not saying they would find Transformers profound, just that is an unfair measure as it RARELY occurs.ZhouBoTong

    OK; I’ll try to better illustrate my view: Transformers are about morals, courage, some light sci-fi, and, more recently, a lot of eye-candy. Compare its cultural impact to movies such as Bladerunner or, more recently, the Matrix. The later, for example, has most of what the Transformer movies have, but its sci-fi concepts have more depth, and it touches upon—what in philosophical slang are—epistemological and ontological topics, some of which are nearly as old as philosophy itself. Because of this, to the average adult person who can comprehend and enjoy both, Matrix movies will tend to hold greater value than Transformer movies. Yes, aesthetics is in the eye of the beholder, but there are a lot of beholders out there, and our degree of general understanding tends to correspond to the statistical bell-curve. What affects the median the most is that which will have the greatest impact on society at large—and, hence, what will be commonly deemed better.

    If only 1% (being generous) of art or philosophy is "profound", then are we just wasting time the rest of the time?ZhouBoTong

    In my given statement more profound was merely the opposite of more trite—and not intended to be taken as an absolute. So, whatever is deemed to not be trite will have more profundity to it by comparison—even when it is not deserving of the title “profound”.

    I am suggesting there are other benefits (possibly even other areas of more "prime" importance) of art other than some profound experience.ZhouBoTong

    In considering this and your previous post to me, I find that we might end up going around in circles if we don’t come to a more explicit understanding of what aesthetics are—and what they are not.

    To me:

    First off, do we agree that aesthetics are first and foremost an emotive experience (rather than an intellectual desire of consciousness)? Secondly, the emotive experience can’t simply be any attraction toward—e.g., we can be emotively attracted toward food or drink even when not hungry or thirsty (like when having a full stomach), but this attraction doesn’t pertain to our aesthetic tastes (we’re not driven to eat that which is aesthetic to us—and if, by chance, a certain food is for some reason deemed aesthetic by us, eating it will always to us feel as though we are destroying something whose continued presence has value). Thirdly, and however ambiguously, we form a connection, an emotive bond somewhat akin to that of sympathy, to that which we find aesthetic—such that our sense of what is aesthetic becomes an extension of our very selves; of who we at core are as a person. In at least this one way, aesthetics are not to us a fun distraction, or a diversion—which are by their nature ephemeral, dispensable, and superfluous to what makes us us. By contrast, the most aesthetic artifact one has ever known—regardless of what it might be—is cherished on a par to how much one cherishes one’s own person; and, on average, one desires for its preservation about as much as one desires one’s own preservation (despite preferring that it is destroyed instead of oneself--were such a hypothetical to be presented). This is not to say that the two are the same: aesthetics being an emotive calling (toward what is to me a very interesting open question), whereas one’s own conscious self is that which is being called (arguably, by one’s unconsciously originated emotive drives). Hence, for example, when this just mentioned aesthetic artifact of great worth is demeaned by the opinions of others, we feel the value of our own person being demeaned (especially when we respect the other)—and when it is valued by others, we more often than not feel exalted.

    (I don’t take these three aspects to define the aesthetic; but, to me at least, everything that can be deemed aesthetic will fit these three descriptions—including biological aesthetics, especially where the want to possess that which is beautiful is not involved.)

    A lot said (don't have enough time to make this post more concise), but:

    -- If you disagree with these three partial facets of the aesthetic, can you then explain what the aesthetic signifies to you such that it doesn’t fit these descriptions?

    -- If, however, there is no significant disagreement, then why dispel the conclusion that some aesthetic experiences are better than others—not on some mathematically precise linear scale, but relative to the general understanding of the beholder(s) concerned?

    (To again emphasize: no one’s experienced aesthetics is ever wrong. However, from the vantage of the bell curve’s mean, some aesthetics will hold greater value than others relative to the populace addressed.)

    BTW:

    We have created a massive formal academic field of art, that contributes very little to actual art.ZhouBoTong

    If I understand you correctly, and as you may have picked up from my previous posts, I’m in general agreement here. The emperor’s new clothes in the world of art is, imo, produced by too many people being untrue to their own heartfelt aesthetics. Still, were one to be true to one’s aesthetic tastes (rather than succumbing to authoritarian decrees or wanting to so become authoritarian), I strongly believe one would remain open to understanding why others find aesthetic value in givens one does not—as well as remaining tolerant for other people’s genuine aesthetic tastes even when they contradict one’s own.

    But this doesn’t nullify there being better and worse aesthetics—this for any individual as well as for any general populace. Otherwise, I’m thinking, this critique of the art world incrementally turning into a farce couldn’t apply—for its aesthetics regarding what constitutes “actual art” would then be of equal value to any other, leaving nothing of it to critique.
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    No, I find the topic immensely interesting; but it’s a very complicated subject. And I’m honestly trying to economize my personal time. It might be a while till my next reply.javra

    Great to hear. And no worries on timing. I tend to go a few days between replies anyway. We can pick up a month later if we have to :smile: And this reply is getting so long, you may need a few weeks to get through it :grimace:

    This post only gets up to the point where you start hashing out aesthetics. I am running out of time, and having read that portion, it will not be a quick response (even if not long, I am going to have to think). If you are absent for a little while then I should have that response posted below this one...but it may take a few days before I get time.

    Doubtless this is so due in large part to Shakespeare’s works having greatly influenced our cultural heritage in the west—whereas Transformers has had little of such impact on western society. But this reason is not of itself an issue of directly experienced aesthetics—rather, it’s more one of western culture’s history of aesthetics.javra

    If I am interpreting this correctly, I think we might be much more in line than I realized. Sorry if I am combative on this subject, I have had too many bad arguments. I think I have been reading your arguments and making sense of them in relation to MY PERCEPTIONS of your position. If I read them without assumptions, I will understand you better, my bad.

    I think this sounds like you might be OK with replacing 50% (+/-) of Shakespeare that is taught in school (below college level) with modern (or just different) stories? How about replacing 30% of literature stories with film stories? I am not exactly sure of the goal of literature education (is there one? really?), but I think these changes would still meet any goal other than, "know the classics". I am also not totally sold on the significance of Shakespeare's influence of western society, but would happily review any strong evidence (he influenced society because we read his stories? How did Shakespeare influence us in ways that The Avengers do not? Or maybe you are suggesting the influence is similar to something like The Avengers, but it has been around for centuries and for most of those centuries very little art was created {relative to the last 30 years} so Shakespeare's works were read by a significant percent of literature readers?)

    My bet is that this is in large part due to bad pedagogy.javra

    I mostly agree in relation to math, but I am not sure in relation to literature. It may be a problem with my personality. I will use your example and hopefully make some progress (we may just conclude that I have some social inadequacies that cause my disagreements):

    To me, a good example: our high school teacher brought out images of Brancusi’s Bird in Space. We were less than impressed with this supposedly seminal work—basically seeing it as horse dung (at least I did). He put the sculpture aside and asked us to express as many adjectives as we could that described a bird in space. We started listing: graceful, austere, elegant, serene, etc.javra

    My adjectives to describe the image (I just googled it) would have been at first literal, golden, curved, narrow, metallic, etc. Then they would have been in relation to the title (that I would have found barely appropriate - it makes sense when I hear it, but I never would have guessed that is what the art was about), so I would say things like, terrestrial, earth-bound, fish-like (sorry, my vocabulary is struggling to come up with decent adjectives, but hopefully those give you the idea). Then, once other students started to introduce emotional adjectives, I would also use them; if someone described the art as happy, I might describe it as sad. And as soon as the first person explained why they describe it as "happy" it will be easy for me to explain the "sad" side (remembering a "happy" time can make you happy, or it can make you sad as you no longer get to experience those happy times). I get this is playing devil's advocate a bit, but I never felt I got a reasonable explanation.

    Now, we have all the adjectives on the board. And we notice that many are actually antonyms for each other.

    When the chalkboard was full with adjectives, he then asked us which if any of these adjectives didn’t describe the sculpture. They all did. At this point we all had a deeper understanding of the sculpture’s abstract significance and, with it, a newfound appreciation for it.javra

    My deeper understanding in that moment was that once "art" becomes "abstract" it can mean literally anything - sometimes it is up to the artist, sometimes it is up to the viewer. I can see how you were led to the conclusion you came to, but can you see that with just a tiny change in perspective, my view is also a reasonable conclusion? (I actually do not expect you to view my conclusion as reasonable, but hopefully that phrasing will help show me where I am wrong (or missing something).

    In re-reading your paragraph, I am not sure what I said is actually against what you said. However, what I said is very unlikely to lead to "a newfound appreciation" of art - I think that is the big difference?

    Some, including myself, in the process came to discover what makes it aesthetic.javra

    I don't really understand this part; I think my understanding of "aesthetic" is far more simple. I think you address our failure to understand that word in the same way later on, so I will wait before spending too much time on that.

    OK; I’ll try to better illustrate my view: Transformers are about morals, courage, some light sci-fi, and, more recently, a lot of eye-candy. Compare its cultural impact to movies such as Bladerunner or, more recently, the Matrix. The later, for example, has most of what the Transformer movies have, but its sci-fi concepts have more depth, and it touches upon—what in philosophical slang are—epistemological and ontological topics, some of which are nearly as old as philosophy itself. Because of this, to the average adult person who can comprehend and enjoy both, Matrix movies will tend to hold greater value than Transformer movies. Yes, aesthetics is in the eye of the beholder, but there are a lot of beholders out there, and our degree of general understanding tends to correspond to the statistical bell-curve. What affects the median the most is that which will have the greatest impact on society at large—and, hence, what will be commonly deemed better.javra

    Ok, I don't see much in there I would disagree with. But there is one thing that I would say is missing. Transformers was not created with deep philosophical ideas in mind, but are you saying that there is no way someone could "create" them as they watch? Brancusi's Bird in Space is not even a bird, and yet...

    Sometimes the artist creates meaning, but other times the artist is providing inspiration for us to create the meaning. If the rabid dog in To Kill a Mockingbird somehow symbolizes racism, can't Decepticons also symbolize racism, sexism, or the negative side of our emotions?

    And just so we are clear, I would be PERFECTLY happy (ecstatic even) with Blade Runner or The Matrix replacing works by Shakespeare, Steinbeck, or Vonnegut (to be fair to Vonnegut, I think 30% of students might be ok with Slaughterhourse Five).

    Because of this, to the average adult person who can comprehend and enjoy both,javra

    Just to see where we are both coming from, what percent of adults do you think can comprehend and enjoy both (epistemological and ontological topics)? I would think only about 15% of adults (I am in America, might be part of the problem, hehe) can define these 2 words. That being said I would say that probably 50% do spend time thinking about topics that would be considered epistemological or ontological. So being generous we can include them. But it seems reasonable that half of adults have spent little to no time analyzing the difference between truth and opinion (the popularity of 24 hour "news" channels suggest those people are not concerned with justified belief vs opinion). I get the sense that you have a more optimistic view of people in this regard?
  • javra
    767
    I think this sounds like you might be OK with replacing 50% (+/-) of Shakespeare that is taught in school (below college level) with modern (or just different) stories? How about replacing 30% of literature stories with film stories? I am not exactly sure of the goal of literature education (is there one? really?), but I think these changes would still meet any goal other than, "know the classics".ZhouBoTong

    It might be that literature, as in literary art, is slowly becoming a vanishing art form (?)—something in parallel to how layered oil paintings are (of which relative moderns such as Salvador Dali championed and which were the rule during the Renascence). Comparing literature to movies has in my experience been a comparison between apples and oranges. They’re two wildly different mediums for storytelling. And, when considering the best of both, the aesthetics captured by neither medium can be satisfactorily translated into the other. Still, literature education is arguably the best way of teaching literacy to students via applied practice; imo, far better than by merely teaching theoretical rules or spelling and grammar, which are dry, tedious, and very boring by comparison.

    As to what 50% or so of Shakespeare should be replaced with. I won’t fib; I’ve my own list of likes that I would have enjoyed reading in high school. Asimov, Bradbury, Dumas, the novel Dune, I’ve already mentioned Kafka, I’ll even say stuff such as Fielding’s Tom Jones. Granted each education is different to some extent, but, still, I nevertheless appreciate having been given to read a wide breadth of literature during high school: historically starting with Beowulf and Ten Summoner’s Tales—neither of which were easy readings but yet very interesting for their historicity—all the way to Virginia Wolf’s To the Lighthouse, Orwell’s 1984, London’s Martin Eden, and the like. And yes, some Shakespeare in between. :grin: I sense, if not know, that it was due to good English teachers that most of the literature and poetry we were taught became meaningful to us students. All the same, I guess my own perspective is that I’d rather more fellow citizens be exposed to these historically important works so as to have a common body of knowledge in society pertaining to a common history—this rather than focusing in on more varied modern novels (even those I just mentioned liking).

    Or maybe you are suggesting the influence is similar to something like The Avengers, but it has been around for centuries and for most of those centuries very little art was created {relative to the last 30 years} so Shakespeare's works were read by a significant percent of literature readers?)ZhouBoTong

    Yes, along these lines.

    (we may just conclude that I have some social inadequacies that cause my disagreements):ZhouBoTong

    Who doesn't? :razz: I've come to notice that pretentiousness is certainly not one of them. It's humbling in a good way. :up: Staying true to one's own aesthetics is something that should be done more often.

    [...] so I would say things like, terrestrial, earth-bound, fish-like [...]

    Now, we have all the adjectives on the board. And we notice that many are actually antonyms for each other.
    ZhouBoTong

    Hm. Maybe I didn’t express myself well enough. My art teacher would have wanted to know how these adjectives can describe a bird that is in space, “space” here being more akin to outer space; maybe most aptly expressed: a bird that is in flight within layers of atmosphere. I’m still suspecting that the case can be made that if the adjective can apply to a bird in space, thus understood, the adjective will then likewise apply to the statue.

    Correct me if I'm wrong.

    My deeper understanding in that moment was that once "art" becomes "abstract" it can mean literally anything - sometimes it is up to the artist, sometimes it is up to the viewer. I can see how you were led to the conclusion you came to, but can you see that with just a tiny change in perspective, my view is also a reasonable conclusion?ZhouBoTong

    TMK, this is a very popular motif in modern art critique. I would concur that artworks are a bit of both. But I disagree with the view I’ve too often heard, specifying that what the artist intended is fully superfluous to the artwork, and that the only thing which matters is what the viewer interprets when looking at it. In a way, to me, this is analogous to ordinary language. What we intend to say matters—even when our expression is less than sufficient to so convey, or when others interpret things which we never intended. To me, so thinking that what the artist intended is unimportant does an injustice to most, if not all, artist out there—for no artwork can be manifested devoid of intention to so manifest; and because what one intends is, to me, an important variable in what makes an artistic expression valuable. Another variable is the quality of the expression to that which was intended. (So: If the idea is not impressive, esthetics might still be there due to the quality of idea’s expression. Or, if the idea’s expression is poor but the idea itself is stupendous, one could again find the artwork aesthetic. If, however, there is a poor idea coupled with a poor expression, more likely than not the artwork will then be found to have a poor aesthetic quality as artwork. And the judgment of what is poor and what is not is, to me, again relative to one's general understanding.) I’ve here given a rough draft of my own views concerning this matter—fully knowing that this subject can in itself lead to a very long debate, were it to be pursued.

    In short, I believe I get what you’re saying. Still, I’ll for now be stubborn and continue upholding that the statue "Bird in Space" does a good job of conveying its subject matter via abstract form. (It’s not among my favorite, btw: its aesthetics are too cognitive for me; the aesthetics I most like are felt viscerally. But I’ll toe the line for now, so to speak.)

    Some, including myself, in the process came to discover what makes it aesthetic. — javra

    I don't really understand this part; I think my understanding of "aesthetic" is far more simple.
    ZhouBoTong

    I brought this example up because, to me at least, it serves to exemplify how one’s increased general understanding in relation to an artwork can at times transform that which is deemed relatively unaesthetic into something whose aesthetics are appreciated.

    Sometimes the artist creates meaning, but other times the artist is providing inspiration for us to create the meaning. If the rabid dog in To Kill a Mockingbird somehow symbolizes racism, can't Decepticons also symbolize racism, sexism, or the negative side of our emotions?ZhouBoTong

    Of course. I’ve already mentioned a little about my take on the intention/interpretation dynamic to artworks. Staying true to that, I so far find that both the rabid dog and the Decepticons were roughly intended to symbolize the "negative side of our emotions" (Decepticons alluding to deceptions).

    Because of this, to the average adult person who can comprehend and enjoy both, — javra

    Just to see where we are both coming from, what percent of adults do you think can comprehend and enjoy both (epistemological and ontological topics)?
    ZhouBoTong

    I maybe wasn’t sufficiently clear. I meant “comprehend and enjoy both movies: the Transformers and The Matrix” (e.g., some young preadolescents that enjoy Transformers might not understand why the Matrix is found more aesthetic by many adults). But you bring up a good point:

    Don’t know that I can be labeled an optimist, but I do find that people generally hold emotive understandings of subjects which, when philosophically addressed, are not yet very well understood consciously. These include both epistemological and ontological topics. For example, we all (emotively) know what justice, good, aesthetics, etc. are, but when we start trying to consciously pinpoint them, we then often times enter into debates.

    This goes back to my take being that good aesthetics ring true—that they emotively speak to us of things which we are emotively knowledgeable of, but of which we often cannot make sense of at a conscious level. Hence, for example, adults that don’t comprehend and enjoy epistemological and ontological subjects of philosophy will nevertheless tend to be more fascinated by the Matrix than by the Transformers—and this because the former has greater depth in its epistemology and ontology.

    To further debate this, though, there is again a benefit to a common understanding of what aesthetics are and are not. Without such a basic understanding, we could easily end up talking past each other. You were saying that your understanding of aesthetics are likely simpler than mine. Still curious to know how they wouldn't fit the three descriptions I previously offered.
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    First, it looks like I am running out of time again, and will probably only get to about half of your post. I will definitely get to the rest.

    Second, you will notice that after a couple responses I get a bit too into describing why I like/ don't like specific works. I think those bits are more about us understanding where we each are coming from, they may not add much to the argument, so feel free to breeze past them.

    Comparing literature to movies has in my experience been a comparison between apples and oranges.javra

    For me more like Red Delicious vs Granny Smith apples (red vs green). Both movies and books are methods of story telling (notice art like painting or most poetry is not really story telling) - but we can agree they are not the same.

    And, when considering the best of both, the aesthetics captured by neither medium can be satisfactorily translated into the other.javra

    I think I mostly agree with this, but this gives no reason for teaching literature over movies (I am not even saying that is what you intended - just bringing it back to my point, why not teach a few movies in addition to all the literature?)

    Still, literature education is arguably the best way of teaching literacy to students via applied practice; imo, far better than by merely teaching theoretical rules or spelling and grammar, which are dry, tedious, and very boring by comparison.javra

    I agree that spelling/grammar/ etc can be boring. Remember, part of my point is that I think 4 years of REQUIRED english class is wrong. Math, Science, history, and EVERY other subject do not require 4 years (I am in USA). Most of what is studied in English is art, why is this required? Notice the "literacy" you speak of could also be taught through history lessons. I just don't see any obvious goals of literature education (that can't be taught elsewhere).

    Asimov, Bradbury, Dumas, the novel Dunejavra

    I was all excited and was about to say how I liked all of those except Fahrenheit 451 (it was OK, but I wouldn't read it again for fun). Then I realized that Fahrenheit 451 is the only one that I have read. All the others I just saw movies (for Dune I saw the movie and the mini-series). I expect that I would like the books, but I have no urgent desire to read them. But this may be informative to our discussion - I did not dislike, Fahrenheit 451 because I read it and like Dune because I watched it. One could just give me a 5 minute summary of each, and from that I would KNOW (like 98%+ confident) that I would like Dune more (whether in movie or book format).

    Based on our conversation, I am not sure I get this sense from you? Is there a genre of books or movies that you prefer? Drama, Action, Comedy, adventure, heroes, etc? What I mean is that if a story is an action adventure with a bit of comedy and a hero that has no major moral shortcomings - there is almost zero question that I will be entertained. Now there is a huge gap between the best and worst story of this type, but FOR ME PERSONALLY, that type of story is almost guaranteed to at least be decent. I like the occasional story in different genres, but it is very hit or miss. I have no idea if I will like it, before I watch/read it. I am not sure anything in this paragraph is entirely relevant to our discussion - just a side note so we can both understand where the other is coming from.

    I nevertheless appreciate having been given to read a wide breadth of literature during high school: historically starting with Beowulf and Ten Summoner’s Tales—neither of which were easy readings but yet very interesting for their historicityjavra

    I appreciate this sentiment, and WISH it was remotely true for me, but it just wasn't - I don't think I had terrible English teachers, I just found nothing of value (for me personally) in those stories. I often tell people that I know there was only 1 book I ever liked (that I was forced to read in school), because there was only one book that I would actually read ahead on (the rest I finished the chapter the night before - or minutes before - the quiz). That 1 book was Childhood's End - some Arthur Clarke sci-fi thing.

    Beowulf is a nice example of how to make me NOT like an action adventure story. Give the "hero" crap morals (or not necessarily crap, just normal human grey area garbage). The whole story, do I want Beowulf to die? To kill Grendel? To kill his own offspring? Do be faithful to his queen? Do I want the witch to win? I have a need to support a character if I am going to be interested. If I would not support the person in real life, I don't care about their fiction story (notice modern stories like Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy lose me for this very reason).

    All the same, I guess my own perspective is that I’d rather more fellow citizens be exposed to these historically important works so as to have a common body of knowledge in society pertaining to a common historyjavra

    This seems interesting, but toward what end? So we have topics for conversation or something more?

    Shouldn't we all understand our own actual history first? Notice I am back to the 4 YEARS of required English vs 2 years of required history.

    I've come to notice that pretentiousness is certainly not one of them.javra

    Hahaha. Yeah, I am almost militantly plain and uncultured :smile:

    I still have plenty more to respond to but I do get long-winded - feel free to point out anything I am writing that is useless information. Once I start writing it just pours out, but then I go back and read it and question if I am staying on topic.
  • javra
    767


    In the spirit of giving a better impression of where I’m coming from:

    In movies the imagery is given to you. In literature, the imagery is constructed by you via imagination. Of itself, this presents two very different experiences of cognition.

    Then there is the content that is amenable to movie format v. literature format. For example, in Fahrenheit 451—which I read for fun in high school—one of the parts that affected me the most was the spiel that an old-timer gave the protagonist about the reason people cry at the funeral of loved ones. In far more elegant expression, the perspective held that we cry selfishly, for our own ego’s loss, and not for the loved ones that died—regardless of how they died: either they ceased experiencing all experiences and, thus, all suffering or, else, we believe that they passed on to a better place than that in which we’re in (and this because, via our love for them, we deem them to have been good people). But because this portion of the novel is extraneous to the main plot, because movies focus on action rather than contemplation, and because movies are roughly limited to under two hours of storytelling whereas novels are not, no movie of Fahrenheit 451 can likely do this aspect of the novel justice—nor other like aspects of the novel.

    Having both read Dune and seen the movie (I enjoyed both), this same disparity applies to the novel Dune to far greater extents. In the novel, erudite observations of politics abound, as do insights into human psychology. One soundbite-friendly observation that comes to mind, paraphrased, is that the typical adult human would rather die than find himself holding beliefs antithetical to those beliefs he’s assimilated into himself as an adult. The movie greatly skims the theoretical aspects of the book in favor of action that is visually depicted—thereby depriving the story of its more pleasant experiences, this while reading the novel.

    If we equate plot to story, the story remains roughly the same in a novel and a movie. But just as plot-depicting cliff notes cannot convey the aesthetic experiences of living through the story—regardless of whether it’s a movie or a novel—so too will a good movie not do a good novel justice, for the movie at best abridges far too much of the novel’s contents: those of perspectives, of background, of psychology, of worldviews, etc. And again, by comparison, a good movie will not flex the mental muscles of imagination (so to speak) anywhere near as much as will a good novel.

    Now, though unfortunately too often derided among rational types, imagination is of pivotal importance in everything from finding satisfactory solutions to problems (of all types and breadths) to the progress of the empirical sciences (from arriving at new paradigms which explain all outliers of data, like the Theory of Relativity and the Theory of Evolution, to the formulation of worthwhile hypotheses and adequate tests for these). And, quite arguably, among the best ways of improving this cognitive faculty among all individuals is via the reading of literature. Not everyone will find some particular form of creative activity engaging, but all will find storytelling interesting (and the written forms of these is when imagination is greatly required).

    On the other hand, a good movie’s characteristics—often including those of detailed, good imagery and quick action given in a succinct two hours’ time—cannot be captured by a novel, regardless of how good the novel is. Hence, movies that are visually stunning can serve as a good example of experiences that cannot be experienced in writing (thereby the cliché that a picture tells a thousand words). Then again, some stories are not interesting enough to warrant being read in novel format—while yet making a pleasant movie experience.

    So, this is why the experience of reading a good novel and the experience of seeing a good movie is to me a comparison between apples and oranges. They can both be good, but to me they’re entirely different species.

    I hope this also serves to better express why I feel that the four years of required English in high school is best served by a maximal exposure to literature—rather than via exposure to movies. (As to the history that may be involved, it is not about our history per se—which is about historical facts, something that fiction is not married to. Literature form different time periods can immerse one within the “what it is like” to have lived during that era and culture—but, again, it is not about history proper.)

    Anyway, I wanted to share my views so as to better justify my being pro the status quo of high school English teaching English via exposure to literature (in fact, with my whishing that more literature would be taught during this four year span).

    I still have plenty more to respond to [...]ZhouBoTong

    I’ll likely wait for you to present your views on what is and is not aesthetics, this in general.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.2k


    One could engage one's imagination much more when watching a film than when reading a book, too. It just depends on the individual and the occasion.
  • javra
    767
    Sure, but the comparison in degrees of imagination was between a good movie and a good book presenting the same story.

    Do you disagree with this:
    In movies the imagery is given to you. In literature, the imagery is constructed by you via imagination. Of itself, this presents two very different experiences of cognition.javra
  • Terrapin Station
    9.2k


    In movies, some imagery is given to you. That's not all you can visualize, however. You can--and often are expected to--visualize things that happen offscreen.

    By the same token, we could say that with books, all the words/thoughts/descriptions are given to you, whereas with films, you need to fill that stuff in for yourself via your imagination.
  • javra
    767
    By the same token, we could say that with books, all the words/thoughts/descriptions are given to you, whereas with films, you need to fill that stuff in for yourself via your imagination.Terrapin Station

    We appear to hold experiences that greatly differ ... especially when assuming you read my first post given today regarding the differences between film and book formats of stories. So be it.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.2k


    I'm just pointing out that it's not the same for everyone or in each scenario. It's not the case that one thing or the other catalyzes more imagination for everyone.
  • javra
    767
    I'm just pointing out that it's not the same for everyone or in each scenario. It's not the case that one thing or the other catalyzes more imagination for everyone.Terrapin Station

    RE: "for everyone":

    I’ll in turn point out that your reliance on exceptions to the general given that “books require more use of imagination than do movies” so as to evidence this same generality false, or else devoid of value, is in many ways analogous to the following: someone’s claiming that doors shouldn’t be the height they are because some adult people are far shorter and some far taller than the common door height of our buildings. Exceptions to a common generality do not evidence the commonality of this generality false.

    Do exceptions occur? Of course. Does this then signify that the average person thinks, abstracts, and imagines as much when seeing a movie as when reading a novel? No, it does not. Otherwise, a 600 page novel should be no more challenging than a 2 hour movie of the same story. Resulting in more people willingly reading and finding the experience enjoyable. But I acknowledge it’s easier, for example, for parents to put their kids in front of TV sets instead of taking the time to read stories to them. I take it that to you these two activities are of equal value to a person’s mental development?
  • Terrapin Station
    9.2k


    Claiming that something is the case for most people for something like this would require empirical studies that no one has done.
  • javra
    767
    great. Can you answer this:

    But I acknowledge it’s easier, for example, for parents to put their kids in front of TV sets instead of taking the time to read stories to them. I take it that to you these two activities are of equal value to a person’s mental development?javra
  • Terrapin Station
    9.2k


    I don't think there's any good basis for trying to state a generalization about that.
  • javra
    767
    Since this is beginning to overly deviate from topics of aesthetics, while I disagree, I don't have much left to say here.
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    I’ll likely wait for you to present your views on what is and is not aesthetics, this in general.javra

    I think I am going to go back to your previous post and get to the rest of that, which will hopefully lead to me presenting my views on aesthetics (I have never really thought of "my view on aesthetics" directly). You definitely said some interesting stuff in your most recent post, but I will not be able to get to both today.

    My art teacher would have wanted to know how these adjectives can describe a bird that is in space, “space” here being more akin to outer space;javra

    I really misinterpreted the assignment. I was not aware the teacher told you anything. I was thinking how I would describe the piece if someone had just shown it to me, with no introduction whatsoever, other than the title.

    I’m still suspecting that the case can be made that if the adjective can apply to a bird in space, thus understood, the adjective will then likewise apply to the statue.javra

    It seems bit weird for me to describe "a bird in space", then be shown a piece of art and asked "does that fit your adjectives?" But wouldn't many of the literal adjectives not apply? Alive, frozen, fleshy, feathered, etc? I think my biggest problem with "appreciating" art is that my brain is very literal. It can understand abstract concepts (I am not sure if I am "worse" at this than others, but that is possible), but will never use an abstraction when something direct and more concise will work.

    I disagree with the view I’ve too often heard, specifying that what the artist intended is fully superfluous to the artwork,javra

    I agree with this, but just want everyone to admit that these abstract artworks could EASILY represent something else. If the author says "it means X" then it means X. However, if a teacher asks me to read something, does not tell me what the author intended, then marks it wrong when I give an alternative answer; THEY ARE WRONG, the only thing that can be graded is my justification of my answer. If the creator of "bird in space" names it "bird in space" and says it represents a bird in space, then that can only be true. However, if that same artist, had labeled that same sculpture "the tear of god" (I mean tear as in cry not tearing a piece of paper) and said it represented a tear of god; it seems equally justified, right? And so, I think it is fine and even natural to disagree with the artist, if you were never told the artist's view to begin with (nowadays we have google, so less of an excuse for ignorance, but not all art is on google).

    What we intend to say matters—even when our expression is less than sufficient to so convey, or when others interpret things which we never intended.javra

    I agree. But I take it further. Not only does what we intend to say matter, but we are responsible (to some extent anyway) for conveying this information in a way that leads to a consistent interpretation. And for me, a lot of art fails in this regard.

    And the judgment of what is poor and what is not is, to me, again relative to one's general understanding.javra

    Would it be possible for someone to both understand Shakespeare, and think his stories were not very good? I can agree that more knowledge can lead to greater appreciation, but I cannot agree that more knowledge will always lead to greater appreciation. Take anything in life you really don't like. If you learned about it for the next decade would you suddenly like it (for me some things could be yes, others would certainly be no)?

    I brought this example up because, to me at least, it serves to exemplify how one’s increased general understanding in relation to an artwork can at times transform that which is deemed relatively unaesthetic into something whose aesthetics are appreciated.javra

    Well I guess the "at times" in this statement partially answers my objection above. I think it is safe to say we are definitely in partial agreement on this one :grin:

    Of course. I’ve already mentioned a little about my take on the intention/interpretation dynamic to artworks. Staying true to that, I so far find that both the rabid dog and the Decepticons were roughly intended to symbolize the "negative side of our emotions" (Decepticons alluding to deceptions).javra

    While there are aspects of literature that need to be taught, this shows that some aspects could be taught using movies, which could actually increase interest in literature. If you use movies to teach boring crap, like memorizing the literary devices or recognizing symbolism, then the students actually have the tools to read something like Shakespeare. If you just start with Shakespeare, then they hate it before they understand it.

    And I am out of time again, I didn't even finish the one post (I think I am close to done).

    I am not sure I am answering your aesthetics questions satisfactorily (I certainly have not answered it directly, but think my position can be seen). Feel free to point out where you would like me to state something more directly.
  • javra
    767
    I am not sure I am answering your aesthetics questions satisfactorily (I certainly have not answered it directly, but think my position can be seen). Feel free to point out where you would like me to state something more directly.ZhouBoTong

    I’ll start with a joke: An artist presents his much anticipated work at a gallery. It’s a large blank canvas. A commoner askes the artist what it’s supposed to be. The artists proudly expresses that it’s a never before so perfectly depicted scene of a cow amid fields of grass. The simpleton asks, “Where’s the grass?” The artist explains that the cow ate it all. “OK, but where’s the cow?” the commoner then asks, still being thoroughly bewildered. The elite artist replies, “The cow walked away in search of other pastures, of course!”

    This is my shortcut way of again expressing that I agree with the view that too much of modern art is … well, not good art. My main contention in this thread, though, is that there is such a thing as better and worse aesthetics. I assume that if the just mentioned joke makes any sense, this truism of better and worse aesthetics is at the very least implicitly acknowledged.

    Movies and books that average one star reviews, for example, can then be deemed to typically hold poorer aesthetics (this relative to the average human ) than those which average four star reviews or greater.

    Since the issue of aesthetics in general, as I broadly understand it, does tie in with one of @Terrapin Station 's recent posts to me, I’ll mention his observation:

    Claiming that something is the case for most people for something like this would require empirical studies that no one has done.Terrapin Station

    Very many attributes pertaining to the average human psyche are not possible to empirically demonstrate (as least not currently). As one example, it is impossible to empirically demonstrate that most people out there experience the same exact thing we do in relation to what we all address as the color red—yet there is good reason for all of us to hold this belief to be true. To my mind, this gets into heavy duty issues of epistemology—many being very contentious—of which I have no interest to investigate in this thread.

    Nevertheless, it is true that this general aspect of epistemology does apply to issues such as those of imagination (e.g., what of this faculty is commonly experienced among at least most humans, what then constitutes more of it for most humans, and, in consequence, what best improves it for most humans—here of interest, known human conditions pertaining to visualizations can range from photographic memory to aphantasia (the inability to visualize) … and this doesn’t even touch on things such as imagined smells, tastes, etc., or the more complicated forms of conceptual imagination—which is how new theories are for example produced); it likewise applies to the attribute of intelligence (e.g., intelligence’s definition is currently controversial, which of itself makes IQ tests less than objective/unbiased … yet, correlations between IQ scores and other human capabilities often do hold statistical importance), and—here skipping a potentially very long list of psychological attributes—the same epistemological issue also applies to the human capacity to experience aesthetics (an experience not shared to any degree with most lesser animals, and only somewhat with lesser animals of greater intelligence).

    Again, without wanting to get into epistemological debates about all of this: As we typically hold good reason to uphold that all humans experience the same quality of color when claiming to see the color red, and that imagination and intelligence as we experience it is something universal to humans at large, so too do we hold good reason to presume that experiences of the aesthetic are universal to humans at large. Likewise, as we hold good reason to judge that some reds are redder than others, and that imagination and intelligence can be more/greater/better, so too can we then hold good reason to judge that some givens are more aesthetic than others (i.e., that some givens hold better aesthetics).

    I offer these (imo, generally accepted) perspectives without in any way denying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or that variations in magnitude of aesthetic experience can, and likely do, occur among different humans (e.g., the professional musician can be argued capable of finding far more beauty in a liked melody than the typical tone-deaf non-musician who enjoys the same melody; or a mathematician to find more beauty in a mathematical paradigm than the non-mathematician who also likes the same mathematical paradigm; etc.).

    Hence, I take the psychological issue of aesthetics to be a very complex topic—and the background I just offered serves to illustrate some of the complexities I find in it. But—just as can be said of imagination, intelligence, introspection, joy, suffering, etc.—I very confidently believe that aesthetics too can be better and worse, or greater and poorer, or more in comparison to less. This despite the epistemological complexities involved.

    Having addressed this summarized general understanding (which might be contentious for some) in the hopes of better illustrating where I’m coming from, what I basically wanted to find out is the following:

    I was curious about whether or not your own experiences of the aesthetic can be described by the three descriptions I previously offered. In sum:

    • Experienced aesthetics are emotive experiences (akin to those of wonder).
    • Aesthetics are a narrow subset of experiences of attraction in general (such that not all attraction-toward constitutes the aesthetic—although aesthetic experiences always attract).
    • That which we find aesthetic becomes an aspect of our extended selves—such that its value becomes in some ways to us intertwined with the value of our own being (e.g., regardless of what one finds aesthetic, when it is cruelly insulted, demeaned, or laughed at by others we feel ourselves to be hurt to some degree and in some way; everything from feeling ourselves to be insulted (rather than some object out there in the world which we are not) to feeling ourselves to be somewhat lonely, or isolated—with the converse applying when we encounter others whose aesthetic tastes overlap with our own).

    I wouldn’t be surprised that these three descriptors of the aesthetic would not be universally attested to by all humans. But, if not, I would then be curious to understand what “aesthetics” then signifies to such individuals; importantly, such that the understanding yet conforms to the common usage of the term.

    It seems to me that once we can roughly agree upon what the aesthetic is as a generalized experience, we could then better address whether or not aesthetics can be better and worse.

    I agree with much of your latest post, btw. I’ll reply to it later on.
  • ZhouBoTong
    256
    Dang, you responded too quick. I think I have a bit more time today, so I am going to respond to as much as I can (hopefully it does not get too long). If I know I still have material to respond to, I will mention it, but feel free to mention anything else I have missed or need to focus on a bit more.

    (e.g., some young preadolescents that enjoy Transformers might not understand why the Matrix is found more aesthetic by many adults).javra

    You make a valid point here, but my opinion would be that it is only valid for about 10% of people who have seen those movies. One need not know Descartes, or even the underlying ideas of his philosophy (or any other philosophical ideas), to enjoy the Matrix. Similarly, some people will have their experience of watching the Matrix enhanced by an understanding of philosophy, but someone like me would just count it as an interesting side note that doesn't add much to the story...If I wanted to study philosophy I would have done so directly. For me, putting philosophy into fiction is a way to make it more fun, interesting, entertaining, etc. There are better, more direct methods of learning, if one is less concerned with being entertained in the process. This is going to be my biggest issue with saying literature is important because we can learn philosophy (or anything else). Literature can teach us about emotions that we would otherwise only rarely experience. But if we go beyond emotions, can't everything that is taught abstractly in literature be taught more directly using another method? In your next post you describe how impactful that funeral portion of Fahrenheit 451 was to you:

    In far more elegant expression, the perspective held that we cry selfishly, for our own ego’s loss, and not for the loved ones that died—regardless of how they died: either they ceased experiencing all experiences and, thus, all suffering or, else, we believe that they passed on to a better place than that in which we’re in (and this because, via our love for them, we deem them to have been good people).javra

    I entirely understand the learning you are expressing here. You explained it in just a few simple sentences. You lament your own lack of elegance, I applaud your concision. The "elegance" of Bradbury may have made this topic interesting or palatable to someone who is generally disinterested. But for someone who truly wants to learn, there is a better way (by better, I mean faster, more efficient, more complete, etc).

    A related example: I have been in many discussions with libertarians or objectivists or republicans where they ask me if I have read "Atlas Shrugged" or "The Fountainhead". I respond, no, but I have read Rand's essays where she directly lays out her philosophies. What more can I gain from the novels? (I do not mean to imply that Rand had good philosophy or novels - just using the example).

    Don’t know that I can be labeled an optimist, but I do find that people generally hold emotive understandings of subjects which, when philosophically addressed, are not yet very well understood consciously.javra

    Hmmm, my over-literal low emotional IQ brain doesn't get this. At first I thought along the lines of the supreme court justice that said "I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it". But you seem to be saying something more? I can understand something emotionally before I actually understand it? How do I know I understand it in any way, if I can't express that in words (or at least point at an example)? I expect this is more weird to me personally, than an actual problem, but it is tough for me to understand.

    For example, we all (emotively) know what justice, good, aesthetics, etc. are, but when we start trying to consciously pinpoint them, we then often times enter into debates.javra

    I feel it is easy (for me, I am learning not for everyone) to pinpoint my ideas on justice, good, aesthetics, etc; I run into problems (debates) when I try to universalize them or ask other people to accept my ideas as their own (this thread :grin: ).

    This goes back to my take being that good aesthetics ring truejavra

    I think this will blow your mind; I find poetic language (usually) to be anti-aesthetic (to me personally). Few things annoy me more than dressing something up in fancy language when it could have been simply stated in far fewer words (I find a nice concise summary of a very complicated topic to be far more beautiful than nearly all poetry). This suggests to me that while aesthetics can (and do) "ring true" with individuals, it will be a difficult idea to apply to large groups.

    that they emotively speak to us of things which we are emotively knowledgeable of, but of which we often cannot make sense of at a conscious level.javra

    I do not wish to deny this or argue that it is wrong, but just say that I do not get it. I would ask for an example, but if you can explain it in writing, then it is not what you are talking about (sounds like the Tao, haha). I certainly lie somewhere on the spectrum of emotional deficiency, so it may just be me. Try to explain if you can, but I can admit this may be my failure to understand (indeed it was, see next paragraph).

    Hence, for example, adults that don’t comprehend and enjoy epistemological and ontological subjects of philosophy will nevertheless tend to be more fascinated by the Matrix than by the Transformers—and this because the former has greater depth in its epistemology and ontology.javra

    Ok, well this is an example that does answer my question above. I can even understand it, haha. But it does not sound familiar. I liked the Matrix because it was an action movie with a bit of comedy. It had an interesting sci-fi twist and the special effects were great for the time. It also included some martial arts which has been a hobby of mine (more so in my 20s when the matrix was new-ish). It also had the vital feature of the hero having no major moral flaws (he may have had them, but if so, they were never included in the movie). Notice, "It made me think about whether I can trust my senses" is no where on the list. For me that all just rolls into the "interesting sci-fi twist". If I actually wanted to think about whether I can trust my five senses, I would come here and read a couple threads where that topic is being debated.

    Still curious to know how they wouldn't fit the three descriptions I previously offered.javra

    Sorry I keep forgetting this bit.

    First off, do we agree that aesthetics are first and foremost an emotive experience (rather than an intellectual desire of consciousness)?javra

    I think I agree, but as is probably showing, I do often struggle to separate the two (I understand the 2 distinct concepts, but where does emotion leave off and intention take over...?? But I think I still have to agree. What is "beauty" if not some type of emotional response (even if some intellect is included)?

    Secondly, the emotive experience can’t simply be any attraction toward—e.g., we can be emotively attracted toward food or drink even when not hungry or thirsty (like when having a full stomach), but this attraction doesn’t pertain to our aesthetic tastes (we’re not driven to eat that which is aesthetic to us—and if, by chance, a certain food is for some reason deemed aesthetic by us, eating it will always to us feel as though we are destroying something whose continued presence has value).javra

    Ok, this more tells us what aesthetics is not, but the distinction needs to be made.

    Thirdly, and however ambiguously, we form a connection, an emotive bond somewhat akin to that of sympathy, to that which we find aesthetic—such that our sense of what is aesthetic becomes an extension of our very selves;javra

    Perhaps I am overly verbal and underly emotive, but I do not feel that I form the connections ambiguously. I "feel" like I immediately state and quantify how/why I like something. Perhaps you are referring to the split seconds that take place before my brain can justify why "this is good"? Notice that I have overly analyzed my own tastes to the point that I am rarely pleasantly surprised by a piece of art. Based on past experiences, I have a general idea why I will like something, and my brain is pretty quick to fill in those reasons when viewing something new. If this seems like a type of closed mindedness, I disagree (that's like saying it is closed minded to always assume 2+2 =4). I have just verbalized many of my emotions (I think?).

    What about the idea that depending on my mood, what is aesthetic (to me) changes? Is that just a whole new can of worms?

    In at least this one way, aesthetics are not to us a fun distraction, or a diversion—which are by their nature ephemeral, dispensable, and superfluous to what makes us us. By contrast, the most aesthetic artifact one has ever known—regardless of what it might be—is cherished on a par to how much one cherishes one’s own person; and, on average, one desires for its preservation about as much as one desires one’s own preservation (despite preferring that it is destroyed instead of oneself--were such a hypothetical to be presented).javra

    This bit was a bit extreme for me, but your next lines brought into context for me:

    Hence, for example, when this just mentioned aesthetic artifact of great worth is demeaned by the opinions of others, we feel the value of our own person being demeaned (especially when we respect the other)—and when it is valued by others, we more often than not feel exalted.javra

    Now this I understand. I am still working on NOT caring about my opinion being demeaned or exalted, but it is very difficult. That is definitely an example where I experience the emotion long before my brain tells me that was petty to feel that way (although the more I remind myself not be bothered by such things, the faster intention kicks in).

    -- If you disagree with these three partial facets of the aesthetic, can you then explain what the aesthetic signifies to you such that it doesn’t fit these descriptions?javra

    I don't think I disagreed too much. No big surprise but my understanding of aesthetics is the literal definition (I am not in any way trying to belittle or suggest you are wrong, in fact I am half making fun of my own simplicity): "concerned with the nature or appreciation of beauty, especially in art" Simplified: How we decide what we think is beautiful, especially in art.

    -- If, however, there is no significant disagreement, then why dispel the conclusion that some aesthetic experiences are better than others—not on some mathematically precise linear scale, but relative to the general understanding of the beholder(s) concerned?javra

    Because I don't see how your definition created universality. Even if I agree, why does it suggest that my emotions, etc would lead to the same aesthetic conclusions as yours?

    Using some general aesthetic scale, I would conclude that modern humans find Transformers et al more aesthetic than Shakespeare because that is where they voluntarily invest time and money. But I assume you would disagree.

    Well I finished one post and FINALLY got around to your description of aesthetics that you have been asking me to do for a while (don't hesitate to put me on track :grin: ). I think I just have your 2 most recent posts to respond to.

    I just realized I have not proof-read, but have to go. Be gentle :smile:
  • thedeadidea
    98
    It seems a given in educated circles that Shakespeare and DaVinci created "better" art than, let us say, Michael Bay (makes movies that many would consider "low brow" like Transformers or Armageddon). Is there even a little justification for this?

    However, once convinced of their superiority, the elites are happy to force their tastes on the rest of us (I never learned anything about Michael Bay movies in school) and they even have the audacity to suggest I am wrong when I say "I like x better than y". Why are we teaching opinions in school? I appreciate the discussion of opinion in school but there should only be judgement of the justification, not the opinion itself.

    I think this idea applies to philosophy (and other areas as well), but every time I write my thoughts on that it seems like I will be insulting somebody, and I don't know enough philosophy to justify any insults :grimace: I do feel comfortable enough in my knowledge of education or the arts to justify any insults - for example Shakespeare is OK at best (brilliant use of language but garbage stories).
    ZhouBoTong

    The kind of catch 22 'progressive' critique... Wherein any distinction of value is a contrivance is easily put at their feet too...

    a) the same piece of art claimed to be painted by a white conservative male or a Hispanic lesbian which has more value? If you want to claim both would have equal opportunity to get their art hung in a gallery you are out of your mind....

    b) a conversation in contrasting the significance of Starry Night by Van Gough, The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso and Tracy Imin's unmade bed.... Go on have a chop don't just go to the catch 22 Renaissance writers, poets and other mainstream cultural icons paint your own artist canon with the same brush.... Have a real go... then after you get done defending the bed half-heartedly contrast the value of Tracy Imin's art to the kind of aesthetic commentary one might draw from Artist's Shit by Piero Manzoni....

    c) If one is a philistine for treating some art as shit and others as not but all are equal then consider the biography of a man like Auguste Rodin whose classical style in France elicited criticism and scorn in his day but still triumphed....

    d) If you don't like Shakespeare that is up to you but his stories were written 400 years ago... You will have to forgive the writer if they did not weather as well as some English majors hyperbole would have you believe.... But given his pre-industrial revolution pre democracy writing one might have to be a little more forgiving...
    e) The reason why you wouldn't see Shakespeare in a lot of schools today is that he is probably one of the best and most humanistic centers of CULTURE the C word that some artsy wishy-washy Lefty Safe Space Occupying Morons don't want anymore...
    The idea Shakespeare is still dominating English classrooms is as much just another battle of one fucktard who calls himself a right winged/conservative against another fucktard that calls himself a SJW/Left (other synonyms....)

    I just don't understand why kids need to read the same book.... Surely we could have an electronic database of books and let them pick in 2019.... Insisting on references (reference generators), cut and paste quotations and a digital copy so teachers could cut and paste a reference in doubt into said data base and quickly know whether it is there or not..

    Considering its all arbitrary anyway a kid might as well read and write a report on the book of their children rather than read the same book and share opinions nobody cares about or learn to form those opinions. At least they might actually get some joy out of their English class, but an education system that enfranchizes individuated learning and thinking... This is the thing most out of the minds of most people.... It is probably the most significant bipartisan issue for Right and Left Idealogs their want to control and systematize children's thinking and learning.... The only difference of their sycophantic Orwellian Intent is branding.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.2k


    It's clearly the case that lots of people don't agree with the "books require/catalyze/etc. more imagination than films" bumper sticker.

    We could rather easily do surveys about whether people agree with that or not.

    It's just not something that anyone has done any sort of rigorous survey about.
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